By Eamon Kelly
Wolfe Tones 1-13, St. Brendan’s 0-10
Wolfe Tones lived up to their reputation as champions when they retained their North American County board’s Central Division senior football final for the second consecutive year in a highly competitive and most entertaining final at Gaelic Park Chicago last Sunday before the biggest crowd of the year. There can be no doubt of Wolfe Tone’s worthiness to remain on the top rung. From the start the Tones were focused, playing well within themselves, moved the ball cleverly, and one had the impression they could lift the tempo should the need arise. Highlight of their victory was the performances of the two Mone brothers from Monaghan, Rory and Fergal. Between them, they scored all but three points of their side’s total score.
Having defeated Wolfe Tones with a superb display last month, St. Brendan’s went into this final as firm favorites. But they were a disjointed squad on Sunday, and apart from a few patches of good football in the early stages of the first quarter, they never seemed capable of generating worthwhile offensive movements to penetrate a solid Wolfe Tones defense. They never looked like scoring a goal and only managed five points in each half, with half of them coming from frees.
In the early going the Tones may have been somewhat sluggish, but seeing how disorganized their opponents were, their confidence rose considerably and there was only one team in it from then on. They fell behind by a couple of points in the opening quarter but got on level terms by the beginning of the second. The turning point of the game came in the 24th minute, when Rory Mone capped off a great movement to give Wolfe Tones the lead for the first time, a lead they never relinquished. Both teams exchanged points before the interval, leaving the halftime score Wolfe Tones 1-5, St. Brendan’s 0-5.
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Rory Mone (3) and Fergal Mone (2) scored the Wolfe Tones’ points, while Dereck Kavanagh (2), Martin Delaney (1) Michael Reidy (1) and Kevin Lynch (1) scored for the Brendan’s.
Cuchulainn 3-11, Harry Boland’s 0-10
Cuchulainn have recaptured the Central Division senior hurling title they last held in 2000 and have reached the NACB playoff for the fourth time in their 9-year history by defeating Harry Bolands in a mediocre final at Gaelic Park. A powerful first-half display underlined Cuchulainn’s determination to regain the title as they completely outhurled the Boland’s in all sections of the field to put the game away by halftime, when they led by 3-6 to 0-4.
Again, it was the Cuchulainn half back line of Carl Grant, Steven Lucky and James Tracy and the accurate shooting of Pat McMahon that laid the foundation for victory. In addition, Cuchulainn had in Kieran Morrison a roving half-forward who caused havoc in the Boland’s defense, scoring two goals and came awfully close to double his production.
Harry Boland’s, facing an uphill battle in the second half, played with great spirit and determination right from the throw-in, scoring four consecutive points to cut the deficit to seven points, but they didn’t have the power to sustain the rally.
Boland’s stayed within 2 points of their opponents for most of the opening quarter but goals in the 12th and 24th minute by Morrison and one by McMahon in the 20th minute devastated Harry Boland’s and pretty much finished the game as a contest. Cuchulainn Points were scored by McMahon (3), Rory Doherty (2) and Morrison (1), while Boland’s points came from Willie Donnellan (2), Liam Hogan and Barry Loughnane. In Harry Boland’s best rally of the game in the third quarter, their four unanswered points came from Hogan (2), Donnellan and Loughnane. However, shortly after that rally McMahon came to the fore for Cuchulainn with four consecutive points to restore the 11-point interval lead. Harry Boland’s did generate a late rally before the final whistle that produced two points by Hogan and Donnellan.
Since two hurling teams from the host city can qualify for the NACB playoffs both teams will meet again in the semifinal.
Padraig Pearse 2-9, St. Brendan’s 1-8
In by far the best game of all the divisional finals at Chicago’s Gaelic Park last Sunday, Padraig Pearse recaptured the junior football title they last held in 1997. Two determined sides, prepared magnificently for the big occasion, did themselves and the game proud. While there was an 18-minute period that went without a score in the first half, the football was of a high standard and played at a hectic pace. Though victory went deservedly to Padraig Pearse, there was a good deal of sympathy for St. Brendan’s from their supporters in the manner they conceded too easy goals that were the difference between victory and defeat. All credit to the Pearse for taking advantage of a couple of goal keeping errors to get the ball in the St. Brendan’s net at crucial stages of the second half.
Superb defending by both teams contributed to a low-scoring, evenly contested first half. No more than a single point separated the teams throughout the period which ended 0-4 to 0-4 at the interval. Brendan Coen (2) Niell O’Sullivan and Joe Keane scored for the Brendan’s while Anthony Walsh (3) and Pat Morrisy notched the scores for the Pearse.
After Dan O’Brien gave St. Brendan’s the lead in the opening play of the second half Padraig Pearse’s corner forward, Marcus Morris pounced on a loose ball in the St. Brendan’s goal mouth to get it across the goal line for an easy goal. Morrisy followed up with a minor score to give his side a 3-point lead. The game was all tied up by the 40th minute when Pat Carton scored St. Brendan’s only goal and took the lead when Coen pointed a free at the beginning of the forth quarter. Both team traded points in a hectic final quarter but disaster struck St. Brendan’s in the 59th minute when another defensive error led to Padraig Pearse’s second goal, again scored by Morris. Walsh added a point just before the final whistle to ensure victory.
Erin’s Rover 1-16, St. Brigid’s 1-8
Erins’s Rovers, whose 10-year dominance of women’s football in Chicago came to a close at the end of the last century, are now back on the winning trail by defeating their old rival, St. Brigid’s, to recapture the title they last held in 1999. As expected, it was a most enjoyable and exciting final, particularly the first half when no more than three points separated the teams at any stage. Big difference between the teams was in offense. The Rovers had the upper hand in this department as a result of superb displays by Majella Griffen and Mary McLoughlin. Between them, they scored 1-11 of their side’s total score.
Erin’s Rovers were slightly the better team in an evenly contested opening half. They shot into a 0-6 to 0-3 lead by the end of the first quarter with McLoughlin being the main scorer. Their defense was caught napping in the 24th minute when a long range shot from Fiona Corcoran found the net to tie the game but just before the interval whistle McLoughlin converted a free to give the Rover a one point, 0-8 to 1-4. St. Brigid’s four points were scored by Sinnead Dooley, Miriam Liston, Katie Whittingham and Corcoran.
Erin’s Rover dominated the third quarter outscoring their opponents 1-6 to 0-0, their goal coming from Griffen in the 16th minute. St. Brigid’s didn’t register their first second half score until the 50th minute when Ami Bennett pointed. Both teams exchanged points in the final ten minutes with the Rovers going out easy winners.
Also, St. Mary’s retained the Chicago camogie title with a well-deserved 3-9 to 2-2 victory over Limerick.
Detroit Wolftones 1-10, Pittsburgh Celtics 1-13
The largest crowd of the season greeted both clubs as the ball was thrown-in. Celtics jumped off to a 2-point lead thanks to Darren Mulligan (Monaghan) and Simon Johnson (Tyrone). Ray Cannon of the Wolftones brought the crowd to its feet with a booming point from the 40 as the game settled in. The clubs exchange points, with the Wolftones cashing in on a rebound for a goal late in the half. Near the end of the half, Mulligan failed to convert a penalty opportunity for the Celtics, as the half ended with the Celtics holding a 0-7 to 1-2 lead.
The second half opened with the Celtics scoring the first two points. But that was quickly answered as the two clubs stayed within three points of each other. The game rolled along as both clubs attacked and counter attacked until Celtic forward John Shovlin converted a goal from close in. Two minutes later he converted a point from play at the 21.
Jr. Football: Padraig 0-13, Y. Irelanders 0-12
Jr. Football: Sons of Boru 2-11, Ulster 1-14
Jr. Hurling: Robert Emmets 4-12, Padraig 3-11